MEN’S BASKETBALL ROAD WINS DEFINING LATE SEASON SURGE
By: STEVEN WRIGHT – SPORTS EDITOR
A late comeback at St. Bonaventure University Saturday, Feb. 8, was another step in the new-found prowess in true road games for the University of Dayton men’s basketball team this season.
Trailing by five with less than five minutes left in the game, UD went on a 9-0 run to take its first lead since the first half and come away with a 72-69 win at the Reilly Center in Olean, N.Y.
“It was probably the most hostile environment we’ve been in all season,” head coach Archie Miller said. “St. Bonaventure’s home venue is one of the better ones that a lot of people don’t know about and we had a lot of things going against us in that game. Foul trouble to three-possession kind of leads for St. Bonaventure at times.”
Dayton’s third win in a row, coming off a four-game losing streak, meant a unique occurrence took place Saturday.
Dayton had not won two road games during the same week, or even consecutively in Atlantic 10 Conference play, since Jan. 17 and 22, 2009, before heading to George Mason University Feb. 4, and St. Bonnie Saturday to pull off the feat.
Miller said he thought the Flyers had a good approach to their week and are learning what they want to be at the end of the season. He said ending February on a good note is the first step.
Overall, UD has five true road wins this season, matching the combined totals from Miller’s first two seasons as head coach. UD last won at least that many games on an opposing team’s home court in the 2010-2011 season, when it won six away from home, one coming during the A-10 tournament when the opening round was played on home courts.
Miller said he credits his upperclassmen as doing a great job of leading on the court during games and in practice. He said after the end of the long losing streak, the team has a little bit of its confidence back.
Dayton has three more road games left in its final six of the regular season. The team found itself heading into its matchup against Rhode Island University Wednesday, Feb. 12, in a tie for seventh place in the A-10.
A bye in the A-10 tournament is still within UD’s reach with every team but one having at least two or more losses in conference play.
“We have to work ourselves a little bit out of a hole, obviously,” Miller said. “We just passed the halfway point of conference season so there’s still a lot of things that can still develop for us. I think if you’re playing well or at least practicing well on February 10th, that’s a good sign.”
Dayton firmly on the bubble in CBS bracketologists’ view
UD, in the latest NCAA tournament projection from Jerry Palm, CBS Sports’ bracketologist expert, is the first team listed out of the tournament, released Monday, Feb. 10.
Atlantic 10 Conference leader Saint Louis University was placed by Palm as the highest seeded conference team as a six. Other A-10 teams included were the University of Massachusetts as a 7-seed, George Washington and Virginia Commonwealth University as 8-seeds and the University of Richmond as a 12-seed and the last at-large team making it into the tournament.
A pair of UD’s non-conference opponents also appeared in Gonzaga University as a 9-seed, and Iona University being listed as a 14-seed. Another team in Baylor University was the third team out.
Palm confirmed via Twitter Monday he makes his projections “Always as of today” when creating his mock tournament brackets based on teams’ resumes.